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Commercial Use Authorizations

A Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) allows an individual, group, company, or other non-profit entity to conduct business activities and provide specific visitor services within a national park unit. The National Park Service (NPS) issues CUAs to manage a wide-range of visitor services.

Federal law mandates the NPS issue CUAs only for business activities and visitor services that:

  • are determined to be an appropriate use of the park,
  • will have minimal impact on park resources and values, and
  • are consistent with the park purpose, management plans, policies, and regulations.

According to 36 CFR 5.3, it is illegal to conduct business in a park area without a permit, contract, or other written agreement. Additionally, Public Law 105-391 Section 418, passed in 1998, provides NPS the authority to issue CUAs to allow business operations and requires NPS to collect a reasonable fee for CUA administration and management. One hundred percent of the CUA application fee collected stays within the park.

A Commercial Use Authorization is required if you provide any goods, activities, services, agreements, or other function for members, clients, or the public that:

  • take place at least in part on lands managed by the National Park Service,
  • use park resources, and
  • result in compensation, monetary gain, benefit, or profit.

Special Use Permits

A Special Use Permit (SUP) is required for activities that provide a benefit to an individual, group, or organization, rather than the public at large and for activities that require some degree of management by the National Park Service in order to protect park resources and the public interest.

Activities and events that require Special Use Permits include:

  • Stationary events at a single location for over 20 participants, such as picnics and family reunions.
  • Events involving over 20 participants on hiking trails and motor roads, such as walk-a-thons, running and bicycling events, motorcycle rides.
  • Memorialization, such as scattering of ashes.
  • Weddings with more than 10 participants.
  • Sports events, fishing tournaments, public spectator attractions, pageants.
  • First Amendment activities with more than 25 participants.
  • Military operations.
  • Hunting.

Last updated: November 10, 2022

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